From Wij vertrouwen stemcomputers niet
Voting systems company threatens Dutch state
“Buy my company now or you won’t have provincial elections”
February 28th, 2007
After invoking the Dutch Freedom of Information Act, the "We do not trust voting computers" foundation has received a number of unnerving documents from the Dutch Electoral Council. These documents describe the wheeling and dealing of Jan Groenendaal, whose company is responsible for all the software sold by the Nedap/Groenendaal consortium that sells the voting computers used in over 90% of Dutch municipalities. Groenendaal's company writes the software that tabulates the election results on both the local and the national level. The Dutch government depends on Groenendaal's company to the extent that it currently cannot hold elections without his help. The Electoral Council concludes this in
The letters also show that Groenendaal was more or less blackmailing the Dutch government at the time of the previous parliamentary elections. On November 10th, he sends an
On November 22nd 2006 (the day of the national elections) he wrote
The mails also show that Groenendaal was contemplating going to court to force the public prosecutor to arrest Rop Gonggrijp, founder of the "We do not trust voting computers" foundation. Groenendaal writes: "After all, his activities are destabilizing society and are as such comparable to terrorism. Preventive custody and a judicial investigation would have been very appropriate." The company also contemplated suing Gonggrijp as well as the TV-program EénVandaag for damages. In their October 4th 2006 broadcast, EénVandaag showed that Nedap voting computers could easily have their software exchanged and that large numbers of these computers were stored in unprotected locations. Groenendaal would also like to see the foundation's two legally bought voting computers confiscated.
In the documents, one can also read how, before the November 22nd elections, Groenendaal sent a letter to all Dutch municipalities which use his system in which he criticizes the Ministry of the Interior for their handling of the crisis regarding the concerns over the verifiability of voting computer election results. In this
Publicly to this day the Dutch government has always indicated to have a large amount of trust in Nedap/Groenendaal. Dutch election results are calculated using software made by Groenendaal that has never been inspected by any independent body, despite an
According to Rop Gonggrijp of "We do not trust voting computers" the use of voting computers threatens the verifiability of election results, because the computers in use today do not allow for any post-election audits. “These e-mails shed new light on the relationship between Nedap/Groenendaal and the state, and thus also on the entire chain of events regarding voting computers. We too had the opportunity to wreak havoc regarding the election organisation. But that’s never been our intention, we’re merely here to campaign for elections with a verifiable outcome. Had we e-mailed the minister in this tone, we’d be at the police station now”, says Gonggrijp.
"We do not trust voting computers" has written an
The "We do not trust voting computers" foundation has been campaigning against the use of the current generation of voting computers in The Netherlands since the summer of 2006. As a result of this campaign, it was revealed that Dutch election legislation fails to address key issues regarding voting computers and that the voting computer inspection regime is faulty at best. Inspections by an independent party (a private company named Brightsight) are limited to a very small number of machines and the inspections mostly test for resistance against vibrations, high humidity and power failures. Resistance against wilful manipulation is neither part of the legal requirements nor of the actual inspections.
In September the foundation legally bought two Nedap voting computers and showed it was relatively easy to create a version of the built-in software that manipulated the election results. It also turned out the chips that held the software could be easily replaced. Subsequently the Dutch government decided to have Nedap/Groenendaal inspect and seal all voting computers. Researching the voting computer also showed that voting computers emit radio waves that can be used to determine what is being voted, threatening the secret ballot.
As a result of the concerns raised over voting computers an independent commission led by ex-minister Korthals Altes was appointed in December 2006. This commission will report on the future of the Dutch electoral process in October 2007. A sub-commission led by ex member of parliament Loek Hermans will look back and examine the decisions made surrounding the introduction of voting computers. Nedap voting computers and Groenendaal election software are also used in parts of France and Germany, and both countries are said to be rolling out more computers. In 2004, Ireland bought 50M Euro worth of Nedap/Groenendaal equipment (sold as "PowerVote") and then decided not to use it in elections after doubts regarding system security were raised. The state of New York is currently contemplating buying 28.000 Nedap voting computers (sold as "LibertyVote") and accompanying software (appropriately named "LibertyControl").